Star Wars and Peace: Olivia looking sharp in new role

FORMER Royton and Crompton School pupil Olivia Cooke has landed a major role among an all-star cast for a new ITV adaptation of William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic novel, Vanity Fair.

Olivia, 24, has already started filming for her part as Becky Sharp, the heroine who attempts to claw her way out of poverty and scale the heights of English Society.

Olivia Cooke with Tom Bateman in Vanity Fair

Her story of “villainy, crime, merriment, lovemaking, jilting, laughing, cheating, fighting and dancing” takes her all the way to the court of King George IV, via the Battle of Waterloo, breaking hearts and losing fortunes as she goes.

Olivia – who is star of Steven Spielberg’s forthcoming film Ready Player One – is joined by a host of household names including Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly/Doc Martin), Frances de La Tour (Rising Damp/The History Boys) and Michael Palin (Monty Python), the latter who will be playing Thackeray himself.

Filming started in Budapest, with the shoot then continuing in locations in and around London.

Gwyneth Hughes’ adaptation of Thackeray’s literary masterpiece is set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars.

Vanity Fair is commissioned for ITV by Head of Drama Polly Hill and the series will premiere on the channel internationally before premiering as an Amazon Prime Exclusive in the US.

“Vanity Fair feels like the perfect classic to adapt for ITV, and Gwyneth Hughes’ stunning scripts bring the novel to life in a way that will really connect with a modern audience,” says Polly.

“The question was always who would be our perfect Becky Sharp and that is undoubtedly Olivia Cooke.

“So, we are thrilled she has agreed to play Becky in what promises to be a very exciting new drama for ITV next year.”

Damien Timmer commented: “Vanity Fair is a massive rollercoaster of a story and we’ve assembled an ensemble cast of real range to do it justice, from fast rising stars like Johnny Flynn and Tom Bateman to stage legends like Simon Russell Beale and household names like Suranne Jones and Martin Clunes, all orbiting Olivia Cooke’s irresistible Becky as she conquers the 21st century.

“We hope Thackeray would approve – and with Michael Palin playing him, why wouldn’t he?!”

Morgan Wandell, Head of International Series, Amazon Studios added: “We’re thrilled to be working with ITV on what is truly a timeless tale of navigating around hierarchical society and class, and the parallels that exist today.

“Olivia is joined by a renowned ensemble cast and we’re excited to be debuting this contemporary take to our customers next year.”

Olivia’s former acclaimed roles include Rachel, a girl who has been diagnosed with leukaemia in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which won a standing ovation at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in America.

She also played Emma Decody in the A&E drama-thriller series Bates Motel.

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